20 Great Horror Movies of the Past Few Years
So Many More Than This
This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are a lot of great horror movies that have been made in the past few years, but I would be really busy, and this would be really long, if I included them all. I am always looking for great movies, so if you have recommendations, by all means, let me know!!
As with my other movie lists, these are all in alphabetical order. I don't rank them. Watch them yourself, and decide which ones you like best. I tend to steer clear of big budget horror movies, as they tend to be rather predictable, safe, and boring.
1: After (2012)
After is an interesting movie. It follows two bus crash survivors, Freddy (played by Steven Strait from the kid's movie, Sky High) and Ana (played by Karolina Wydra who played House's wife in House, M.D. and Violet in True Blood). They try to solve the mystery of where they are, how they got there, and why they are the only people to be found anywhere.
After is a slower paced movie, which may be a turn off for those looking for an action packed, gore-filled horror flick. This is not that kind of movie. It is a well crafted, well acted indie horror movie. It has elements of the old Resident Evil or Silent Hill games, in that it has the darkness, eeriness and an interesting puzzle to solve, without the zombies and gore, of course. This is a great horror movie for those that don't really like horror movies. It isn't cheesy, gory, or terrifying, but it is a strong, character driven narrative that keeps you enthralled the entire time.
2: American Mary (2012)
American Mary is strangely enough, a Canadian film. It's the second good Canadian horror movie that I have stumbled across. There may be more, who knows...
American Mary centers around a med student, Mary Mason (Katherine Isabelle, from Hannibal (TV) and Freddy Vs. Jason and Ginger Snaps), down on her luck, who stumbles into an interesting profession to make some extra money.
This is a horror film written and directed by women (Jen and Sylvia Soska), with a strong female lead. It stands out in the male dominated genre of horror movies, that often center around women as the dim-witted damsel in distress. This movie is a refreshingly unique movie in many respects. The clever plot and great acting truly set it apart. This movie has the potential to become a well-loved cult film in the not to distant future. I loved it.
American Mary Trailer
3: The Babadook (2014)
The Babadook has gotten a lot of attention in the horror world, and with good reason. The movie is disturbing, confusing, and scary! Some panned this movie, and to be honest, I am not really sure why.
The film centers around a young mother, Amelia, played by Essie Davis (Maggie in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions). Her husband died in a car crash while on the way to the hospital to deliver her son, Samuel. A struggling, grief stricken single mom has enough to deal with, but add in to that a child who appears to have some serious emotional and social issues, and a disturbing children's book, and what you get is an uncomfortable, disquieting horror movie with elements of a ghost story and elements of a movie about a disturbed child (think The Bad Seed or We Need to Talk About Kevin).
Through the whole movie, you aren't really sure if it's all in her head, if it's Samuel, or if there is something else going on. It leaves you feeling incredibly confused. I love that about the movie. So often, movies are too predictable, and while that can still be entertaining, I love being surprised, confused, and just plain scared.
The Babadook Trailer
4: Byzantium (2013)
Byzantium is an interesting take on the vampire mythos. Granted, there have been a lot of different takes on the vampire legends, but I love them all the same. Ever since Bram Stoker, writers and film makers have been obsessed with vampires. These vampires may be beautiful, but thankfully, they aren't sparkly.
A beautiful woman and a teenage girl seem to be running from something, leaving destruction of all kinds in their wake. Clara, played by Gemma Arterton (Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace) "befriends" the hapless and hopeless Noel (Daniel Mays), and young Ellie, played by Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, Brooklyn) falls for the charmingly awkward Frank (played by Caleb Landry Jones who played Banshee in X-Men: First Class). Unfortunately for them both, making friends can be incredibly dangerous. Keeping their secret is of the utmost importance.
Byzantium is very well written, and though I have not read the book that it is adapted from, I do plan to in the future. I love that the characters are human, even if they are vampires. They are flawed, real, and I found myself rooting for both Clara and Ellie, even if they were often at odds. This film crosses centuries and still feels incredibly fresh. It is also stunningly beautiful, even in the grittiness of modern times.
5: Creep (2015)
Be forewarned, there are two movies with the same title that were made in the same year. I know that's confusing. I have seen the other movie, and it's not bad. You should watch them both. I will include a shot of the movie poster for clarification. Having said that, let's get to it.
Creep has all of two cast members. You heard me...two cast members. That's a lot of focus on the quality of the acting of these two individuals. Creep is another of the found footage films, and truthfully, I am quite surprised at how far this sub-genre has come since the very first such film, The Blair Witch Project.
Arron (Patrick Brice) has been hired via a Craigslist ad, to act as a videographer. He knows little about the project, other than he will be documenting a cancer patient, Josef, played by Mark Duplass (The Mindy Project, The League) as a memento to leave behind for his child. The film starts out totally creepy, and gets worse from there. What I loved was the humor, granted, it's incredibly dark humor, but it was so well crafted and worked so well into the story, that it made it that much more amazing. It shifts seamlessly from funny, to sad, to terrifying, and back again, before the viewer can even catch their breath.
This movie is so dark and so unconventional, yet it draws from some great movies of the past. Like I said, it's a found footage film, and draws from similar films that came before it, but it also has elements of some of those movies about obsessive people (The Cable Guy),only much darker. At times, I wasn't sure where the film was going, and I questioned my own opinions about the characters. A lot of horror movies have a bit of a moral lesson, and this one is no different. Be careful of who you invite into your life, or who invites you into theirs. With the rise of sites similar to Craigslist, and with the reality of someone known as The Craigslist Killer, I am hardly surprised a movie like this was made. Horror films are a mirror of our fears and our culture.
6: Haunter (2013)
This was one of those movies I was hesitant to watch, because it looked like just another ghost story, and honestly, I was a little tired of ghost stories. Haunter is not your typical ghost story, not by any means. I will leave it at that.
It's 1985, and Lisa, played by Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens, Zombieland) is almost 16. She lives with her parents, Bruce (Peter Outerbridge) and Carol (Michelle Nolden), and her little brother, Robbie. Things start to get weird, as she is convinced the house is haunted. Strange things start happening, and it just gets more bizarre from there. Can Lisa unravel the mystery and save her family? Or, is it too late?
This movie is so much more than just a horror movie. It has a great story, great acting, and enough surprises that the viewer never gets bored. The 80's nostalgia factor is also pretty great! The movie isn't one of the best movies of all time, but it is incredibly good. Abigail Breslin is a great actress, and I can't wait to see what she does next.
7: Here Comes The Devil (2012)
Oh, where to start with this movie...It was fantastic! It had elements of the supernatural, a great plot, elements of those 'lost on the fringes' type movies, and so much more! Here Comes The Devil is a Mexican movie, shot in and around Tijuana, and filmed in Spanish. I know...those pesky subtitles again. This may be one of those rare movies which would be OK to watch dubbed, as it will add to the retro quality of the movie.
A family of four is out on a little day trip, when they stop to rest for a bit. The children ask to go exploring, and hesitantly, the parents relent. When the kids don't return, the parents are frantic! The local police aren't a whole lot of help, and the parents check into a hotel for the night. When the kids return the next day, they think their prayers have been answered. But, very quickly, they see that something isn't right with the kids, and proceed to figure out what happened. Assuming they were the victims of a sexual predator, they begin to investigate on their own in order to seek justice for their children. Is that all it was? Is there something more going on? Watch the movie and find out.
This movie has so many great things working for it. It has a great story, enough gore to satisfy without turning your stomach, a great supernatural element, and a gritty throwback to the horror movies of the 1970's. This movie is a love letter to those horror movies. Even the movie poster looks like it was rescued from a 1970's video store.
8: The House at the End of Time (2013)
The House at the End of Time ( La Casa del fin de los Tiempos) is another Spanish language horror film, but this one comes to us from Venezuela, which is rather interesting and unusual.
The film takes place in two time periods, and often switched back between the two. Dulce is a mother of two, who finds herself in a bad situation when her and her husband get an incredible deal on a home for their family. Strange things begin to happen, the kids start behaving strangely, and her life is turned upside down. Thirty years into the future, a now old Dulce, returns to this home with nowhere else to go. She is determined to figure out what happened all those years ago.
This movie is heart-wrenching, beautiful and surprising. The acting was very good, the directing was completely on point, and while the budget was rather small, and that can be seen in some of the effects, the plot and acting more than make up for that. For the first Venezuelan movie I have ever seen, this was excellent, and I can't wait to discover more.
9: The Houses October Built (2014)
I can't even begin to tell you how much I loved The Houses October Built! It is, by far, the greatest movie I have seen in the past few years. An unknown cast, along with an interesting story, that follows the found footage formula, without coming across stale, makes for an experience that just sucks you in. The film was originally released in 2011, and listed as a documentary. It won a top prize at the Shockfest Film Festival that year, and was redone, and released in 2014.
What are "The Houses October Built"? Well, haunted houses, of course. I'm not talking haunted, as in infested with ghosts. I'm talking those roadside attractions, and monstrous nightmare palaces that spring up in early to mid October for a few weeks of screams and thrills, only to disappear once November rolls around. This movie centers around a group of friends in search of the ultimate scare. Unfortunately for them, they just may have found it.
This is a joyride through nightmares of all kinds! Creepy dolls, creepy little towns, clowns and so much more appear in this film to scare the life out of you. The twists and turns alternate between the predictable to the delightful, and it even has a touch of humor. It is a perfect film for fans of horror movies, Halloween (the holiday), and haunted houses. There is a little bit of something for everyone.
The Houses October Built Trailer
10: I Saw The Devil (2010)
I Saw The Devil is a great Korean horror/ thriller film! I am a huge fan of Korean horror movies, and this one did not disappoint! Of course, I expected nothing less from the director of A Tale of Two Sisters, which is fantastic.
The daughter of a retired police chief is kidnapped and brutally murdered. Her fiance, Kim Soo-hyeon, played by Byung-hun Lee (Terminator Genisys, RED 2) vows to exact revenge on the person who did this. He systematically hunts and questions the top suspects, until he finds the evil man that he is looking for. What he finds is a vicious serial killer named Kyung-chul. But, in search of his revenge, does he become the monster he seeks to destroy?
This movie has a great story and a great moral element to it. There is a quote by Douglas Horton which says, "While seeking revenge, dig two graves- one for yourself." Even if you survive, part of you dies, as you stoop to the level of the person you are getting even with. Can you ever really get even for something so heinous? I don't think that it's really possible. The movie is action packed, and unrelenting. You feel all the pain and misery surrounding the characters. There is a decent amount of violence and gore, so, if that isn't your thing, steer clear of this movie.
I Saw the Devil Trailer
11: Kiss of the Damned (2013)
Kiss of the Damned pays tribute to the sleek, glossy vampire movies of the golden age of the genre. It is sophistication where Twilight is childishness. There are no sparkly vampires here, but there is also little overt violence and gore.
Djuna lives in the lovely home of her friend, Xenia, and happens to meet the charming writer, Paulo, played by Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes, Gilmore Girls). She attempts to resist him, but neither of them can seem to get each other out of their heads. They fall for each other before he knows her secret. But, even the fact that she is a vampire can keep him away.
This is so much more than a horror movie. It is a Gothic romance, a thriller, and an exceptional piece of film making. Michael Rapaport (Prison Break, Justified) is also in this movie, as Paulo's agent. The movie is great. It is beautiful and though, not altogether original, it was very well done.
Kiss of the Damned Trailer
12: Last Shift (2015)
Last Shift is a creepy movie! It has paranormal elements, crazy cult elements, isolation elements, and so much more. It was a movie that sat on my list of movies to watch for a while before I finally got to it, and I am glad that I did. It was great.
Jessica Loren (Juliana Harkavy, who played Alisha in several episodes of The Walking Dead) is a rookie cop on her first day at a new station. The station is closing, as they move to a new facility. It sounds like an easy, if not boring, assignment. Then, things start to get strange. All she has to do is wait for the Hazmat truck to arrive to pick up old evidence to be discarded, and not die.
This is a supernatural horror film with some disturbing scenes. The whole movie leaves you feeling ill at ease. Like I said, it is a seriously creepy movie. The setting of the almost abandoned police station was great, and it had the look of a 'Resident Evil-style' police station after the zombie apocalypse started. There were a few jump scares, which I tend to enjoy, especially if they manage to catch me off guard. The acting is decent, and the story is solid. All-in-all, it's a great movie, especially considering it had a fairly low budget. I'm not a fan of big budget horror movies, anyway. And, once I found out it was actually filmed in Sanford, Florida, I liked it that much more.
Last Shift Trailer
13: Let Us Prey (2015)
Let Us Prey is a really interesting movie. It's set in the police station of a little Scottish backwater of a town, and what takes place is unbelievably strange. I watched the movie on a whim, after hearing a little bit about it. I was not disappointed. It was a good movie.
A rookie cop is starting out her first night at a small town police station in the middle of Scottish nowhere. She is rather by-the-book, and ruffles some feathers of the others in the station. I know, it sounds a lot like Last Shift, but this is where the similarities end. Strangeness starts almost immediately, when a degenerate admits to almost hitting a man out on the road. The mysterious man, played by Liam Cunningham (who plays Davos Seaworth in Game of Thrones) shows up at the police station. Bizarre events unfold with his arrival, and it turns into a battle for survival.
This movie is part religious morality tale (without being overtly religious), part gory horror flick, part supernatural suspense thriller, and part isolation horror. The elements work together so well. The movie is well crafted, well shot, and stunning. This movie has elements of Assault on Precinct 13, but with a darker tone. The motley cast of characters make you question as to whether those you know in your life also have some dark skeletons in their closets. Who knows what's really in a person's heart and mind?
Let Us Prey Trailer
14: Mercy (2014)
I had to include at least one Stephen King movie in here, somewhere, and this one was pretty good. Mercy is based off of the short story Gramma, that was published in the collection, Skeleton Crew, back in 1985. The fact that it wasn't adapted to film until almost 30 years later, speaks to the timelessness of some of his works, as well as his lasting power as the king (no pun intended) of horror. It was adapted into an episode of The New Twilight Zone in 1986, however.
The film has a great cast. Frances O'Connor (A.I. Artificial Intelligence, The Missing) plays Rebecca, a single mom of two boys, George (Chandler Riggs from The Walking Dead) and Buddy (Joel Courtney from Super 8). Rebecca is tasked with caring for her ailing mother, Mercy, played by Shirley Knight (As Good As It Gets, Grandma's Boy). The cast is rounded out with other notable names, including, Mark Duplass (The League, Creep) as Uncle Lanning, Dylan McDermott (The Practice, American Horror Story) as Jim Swann, and Eddie Jones (Lois & Clark, A League of Their Own) as Pastor Gregory Luke.
Rebecca is the only one left to care for her mother, as her siblings have decided to leave it to her and her two young sons. But, Grandma isn't just any old woman. Something is very strange about her, and strange things happen around her. This movie plays on childhood fears of older people, and amps them up as only Stephen King can do. I think the adaptation of his story was better than some I have seen, but having said that, it isn't a perfect movie. Chandler Riggs was good, but being young, he had some acting skills to improve upon. Obviously, he has done that, as he is fantastic in The Walking Dead. I love the subtle reference to Randall Flagg (a well known and loved/hated villain who is seen frequently in King's works) in the R. L. Flag Home for the Aged. It shows that the filmmaker is a fan, and threw that in as a homage.
15: Neverlake (2014)
Neverlake is a strange, little movie. I stumbled upon it by accident, and fell in love with it. It's hauntingly beautiful, but rather quiet. It isn't an outright horror film, but has aspects of various types of horror films. The cast is comprised of relative unknown actors, and quite often, I love that about a movie, as it doesn't distract the viewer from the story. The story is wonderful, though somewhat predictable.
Jenny is a young teenage girl, who is sent to Italy to visit her father. She attempts to get his attention, and spend time with him, but he seems far to busy to deal with her at all. She entertains herself with exploring the area nearby, including Neverlake, which is believed to be a lake that possesses supernatural healing powers, and has been dubbed "The Lake of Idols". Jenny meets a group of children, and discovers something rather sinister about the lake, and what takes place around there. Where does Jenny fit into all of this? Where do those odd children fit in? Can Jenny figure it all out and save them, or is it too late?
This movie is absolutely beautiful and haunting. The Tuscan setting is stunningly beautiful, and the imagery is amazing. Add to that a rather unbelievable story (it really is a bit of a stretch, but I enjoyed it), and decent acting, and you have a surprisingly good movie that delivers on a creepy, demented level that such a beautiful movie should almost not have. It's the mixture of the stunning beauty with the creepiness that makes the movie so great.
16: Patrick: Evil Awakens (2014)
This film never got all that much attention, but considering the cast, and how interesting the movie is, I'm rather surprised. Also, the reviews for this movie aren't that great, which doesn't surprise me, as most horror fans look for gore and action rather than a well done movie with an interesting concept. Interestingly enough, the title character of the movie, Patrick, does not utter a single line in the whole movie, and the actor that plays him, Jackson Gallagher, got his start as a still photographer for other films.
A young nurse starts a job at an unusual, and isolated, psychiatric hospital. She immediately butts heads with the hospital's Matron Cassidy, played by Rachel Griffiths (6 Ft. Under, Brothers & Sisters), and challenges the head doctor, played by Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones). She stumbles upon an interesting patient, Patrick, who appears to be all but brain dead. She develops an odd affection for him, and seems to think he is more aware than everyone seems to think.
Patrick is a film all about the possibility of the powers of the mind. The movie is slow to develop, and I think that is why it never gained the attention in the US that it deserved. The movie is creepy, interesting, and unique. The gore factor is kept to a minimum, but when they do use it, it has remarkable impact.
Patrick: Evil Awakens Trailer
17: Starry Eyes (2014)
Starry Eyes is a morality tale, as are a lot of horror films. This one delves into the price one is willing to pay for fame, and the almost evil ambition that some actors possess. It takes a stab at Hollywood in a way that only a horror movie can. I liked it quite a bit.
Sarah, played by Alexandra Essoe (Passion Play), is an aspiring actress who is a bit naive. Some of her friends support her, including Tracy, who is played by Amanda Fuller (Last Man Standing, Grey's Anatomy). Some of her 'friends' seem all to willing to watch the naive, young actress fail. Sarah is starting to feel dejected after botched auditions and rejections. She stumbles upon an interesting audition, and takes a chance. Streams of girls running from the room crying is her only indication as to what is in store. The audition is anything but normal, and they don't seem to like her. Feeling dejected once more, she falls apart, only to find that they were watching her, even then. What happens from here, I will not say. You should see the movie for yourself.
The concept for the movie is interesting and unique. It has a Dario Argento feel to it, without outright copying the style. The acting isn't stellar, though Alexandra Essoe is quite good. Nick Simmons (son of Gene Simmons) plays Ginko, a rather interesting, and creepy character. This film is a dark, and often gruesome look at the quest for fame. How far would you go to achieve your goals? Is anything over the line, or beyond the limits? You want to sympathize with Sarah, and in some ways, you do, but in other ways, you almost root against her, as she can be almost selfish, and far too naive for the meat grinder that is Hollywood. This movie does get rather disturbing at times, so it's not for the faint of heart.
Starry Eyes Trailer
18: V/H/S Movies (2012,2013,2014)
I chose to include all three of the V/H/S movies into one because they all follow the same concept, and are equally good. The three movies are V/H/S, which came out in 2012, V/H/S 2 which came out in 2013, and V/H/S:Viral, which came out in 2014. They are all worthy of a watch. I won't detail each movie individually, since there is little I can say without giving too much away, but I will give you a bit of information about the style of movie, and the basic concept. For all you millennials, a VHS tape is a piece of antique technology, similar in concept to a DVD/ Blu-ray. We used to use these to record television and movies, and make videos of ourselves and family, before a GoPro or smartphone.
The concept of the movie is rather simple. People stumble upon these VHS tapes, in one way or another, and watch them. These tapes are odd, confusing, disturbing, and seem to make almost no sense. It's as if parts were re-recorded over, and it feels like pieces are missing. It is a found footage/anthology style film, with different segments that seem to piece together, sort of. Something very strange happens when you watch these tapes. I am not going to say anything else. See for yourself...
Having said all that, these movies are a mind-bending, nightmare ride, that leaves you in the dark, and stumbling around. It's like a disjointed walk through a scary haunted house. Things jump out at you, scare you, confuse you, and leave you feeling uneasy and lost in the dark. These movies are not for the faint of heart, as they do tend to involve a great deal of violence and gore, so if that isn't your thing, I suggest not watching them.
V/H/S Trailer (Warning: disturbing content)
19: When Animals Dream (2015)
When Animals Dream, or Når dyrene drømmer (it's original Danish title) is a great movie! It is to werewolf movies what Let The Right One In was to vampire movies. The movie is interesting, and has a slightly unique take on the werewolf legends. The cast is excellent, and includes Lars Mikkelsen (House of Cards) and Jakob Oftebro (Netflix series, Lillyhammer).
A teenage girl, Marie (Sonia Suhl), lives with her father and her chronically ill mother on a small island. Life is hard for Marie, aside from helping to care for her ill mother, people seem to shy away from her, or give her a hard time. She starts work at a job processing fish, and while most of her co-workers shy away from her, or treat her with little respect, she does make a friend in the young man who delivers the fish. Her only other friend is her dear friend, Felix, who she relies on and trusts. Things start to get strange, after a body is discovered, and Marie is starting to feel changes within herself. All she ever wanted was a normal life.
The pace of this movie is slow, similar to Let The Right One In, and that may turn off many American viewers, who are looking for a violent, action filled werewolf movie. This is not that movie. This movie, while being about werewolves, and the werewolf legends, is more about the struggle of a family to overcome prejudices in a small town. It is a hauntingly beautiful tragedy. It's romantic, without being sappy. It's sad, without being depressing. This is part coming of age story, and part a tale about being true to one's own nature. Some disliked this movie, and my guess is because it isn't especially filled with action and gore, but it was a suspenseful, interesting film.
When Animals Dream Trailer
20: Would You Rather? (2013)
Would You Rather? is an interesting movie. It has a great concept, and an amazing cast of familiar faces, including, Brittany Snow (Pitch Perfect), Jonny Coyne (11/22/63), Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (Bob from The Walking Dead), John Heard (Home Alone, Prison Break), Charlie Hofheimer (Mad Men), Eddie Steeples (My Name Is Earl), June Squibb (Sheldon's Meemaw from The Big Bang Theory, The Young & The Restless), Robin Lord Taylor (Gotham), and Rob Wells (Trailer Park Boys). That is a lot of acting talent to pack into one movie, and while these may not all be household names, the cast is full of talent.
Iris (Brittany Snow) is desperate to help her ill brother, and is given an interesting offer through her brother's doctor. He says he was helped greatly by a foundation looking to help people such as herself. Iris goes to meet with this foundation, only to find herself competing in a disgusting and depraved game with seven others like herself, held for the amusement of a ridiculously wealthy, and incredibly sadistic, aristocrat.
I would have liked a more in-depth look at the motivations and back stories of some of the characters, but aside from that, I think the movie was good. We have all played Would You Rather? in some form or another, but more as a hypothetical, such as "Would you rather eat a spider, or a cockroach?" sort of thing. This film takes that seemingly innocent game, and amps it up to life-or-death proportions. You find yourself picking favorites, and wishing this character or that character would die, so someone else can survive. The movie succeeds in this aspect, as you have people to cheer for, and hold out hope for. It is a dark look at the power of money, and the sickness of wealth. Thankfully, not many wealthy people are this sick and twisted.